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Northeast Biomedical Mentors Soma Devices at NSF I-Corps

TYNGSBORO, MASS. -- Northeast Biomedical’s (NEB) President, Tim Looney, is providing mentorship through the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps to Worcester Polytechnic Institute spin-out company Soma Device.

The I-Corps program provides financial and mentoring support to student and/or faculty teams who think they have an idea that addresses a market need and has commercial potential.

“Tim has vast knowledge in the medical device field which he freely shares with us as well as putting a lot of effort into providing resources and prototyping our device,” says Anastasia Karapanagou, founder of Soma Devices.

This partnership started in 2020 through the MassChallenge Accelerator Program where Looney met Karapanagou. Throughout the past year Looney and Karapanagou have worked towards moving Soma’s medical device from a concept into a startup. This I-Corps group also includes: Technical Lead Ahmet Can Sabuncu and Co-Entrepreneurial Lead Elliana Budri.

“Soma’s innovation offers the opportunity to reduce risk to patients who may be over medicated during surgery, to reduce the use of reversal drugs and time in the postoperative ICU,” says Looney.

Soma Devices’ goal is to offer a Train-of-Four (TOF) quantitative device that measures the level of neuromuscular blockade in patients during surgery without disrupting the surgeon’s workflow. This will allow doctors to monitor how numb the patient’s muscles are throughout surgery so they are not overmedicated. The overmedication of neuromuscular blockade not only brings risks to the patient but also increases the costs of the surgery because it can add to a longer stay in an intensive care unit and require a larger dose of a reversal drug. This I-Corps project is based on the development of a mechanomyography device that uses medical grade balloons for converting patient response to quantitative TOF data.

“Tim is an invaluable addition to our team,” says Karapanagou. “We met during the MassChallenge Accelerator Program where he mentored Soma Devices and he has gone above and beyond to help us in our path to bring our device to the market.”

The NSF is an independent federal agency created in 1950 by the United States Congress to promote the progress of science, to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare, and to secure the national defense. The NSF I-Corps program uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business or industry

requirements and challenges.

NEB is an ISO 13485 certified product development company that designs medical devices at all stages of production. It has less than 15 employees, which makes every connection personal and allows the employees to be more responsive to clients’ needs. The team is skilled at taking medical devices to market while transitioning the technology back to the client.

MassChallenge is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship through collaboration and development. They have more than a decade of experience accelerating startups, industry, and innovation ecosystems.

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